Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keep in Touch Newsletter 20 September 2020

Many of you will have heard of “Virtual Digital Assistants”, like Apple Siri, Google Assist and Amazon’s Alexa. Some of you use one or other of them, I expect. They are voice-activated artificial intelligence programmes built into smart phones and speakers. So for example, when I’m driving and can’t handle my iPhone, I say “Hey Siri”, wait for a response beep to indicate that Siri has heard me, and ask “Call (whoever) mobile” or “Call (whoever) home” or “work”. Or “Hey Siri, navigate to (whatever address)”, and Apple Maps Satnav bursts into action. Or at home or outside, “Hey Siri, what’s the weather forecast for Cardwell tomorrow?” and a charming young Australian man tells me that it’s going to snow. You can choose whom you want to be Siri, girl or boy, Australian, Kiwi, Pom, American. I find the women a bit schoolmarmly, the Aussie chaps are more blokey. At a Trivia Quiz, I can whisper, “Hey Siri, who won the FA Cup Final in 1952?” A problem is that any phrase which sounds vaguely like “Hey Siri” will spur my cyber mate into action.  So “Oh, sorry” to Leisa will get my wrist vibrating while Apple Watch asks “How may I help you?”

Amazon’s Smart Home Speakers incorporate Siri’s counterpart, Alexa. Which is what brought this Ramble topic to mind. It seems that the Church of England’s Morning and Evening Prayer can be summoned from an Amazon speaker by commanding “Alexa, read today’s Morning Prayer”. An Episcopal (US Anglican) priest of my acquaintance complained that when she tried it, all she could coax out of the thing was “I do not understand Moaning Preer”. What did she expect? It’s meant for Tunbridge Wells, not for Texas.

Anyway, we have unlimited access to real, not virtual, assistance. Telepathic, too, trumps Siri and Alexa.

Isaiah 65:24 Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.

And it doesn’t get it wrong when you say “Sorry” 😊

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